New Releases Out on Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records

Osias Wilenski, Nicholas Anthony Ascioti, Diane Jones, John A. Carollo, Robert Fleisher, Brian Noyes | Trio Casals

Praised for his “bold and expressive” playing (Gramophone Magazine), cellist Ovidiu Marinescu and Navona Records present MOTO CONTINUO, a collection of six contemporary solo cello and piano trio works – from the intense, dark, and expressive to the calm, light, and austere – performed by Marinescu and his colleagues from Trio Casals, violinist Sylvia Ahramjian and pianist Anna Kislitsyna. 
Osias Wilenski’s Variations for Trio, written in 1984, is based on a passage from Beethoven’s Great Fugue (Große Fuge), Op. 133, creating a blend of opposing phrases and virtuosic lines. Adirondack Tableau by Nicholas Anthony Ascioti, adapted from his earlier work Adirondack Suite, is a three-movement sonic reflection of his experiences at Adirondack Park. Diane Jones’ Three Songs, written for Trio Casals, provides distinct imagery throughout its three movements, from the discomfort and rush of crowded city streets, to the serenity of the natural world, to a new spirit watching from above. READ MORE

Ricardo Climent, Robert Rowe, Paul Wilson, Andrew May, Eric Lyon, Russell Pinkston | Esther Lamneck, Elizabeth McNutt

As a ferocious wind storm spins up all things in its path, The Tornado Project, conceived by composers Ricardo Climent and Paul Wilson, cuts a path through the repertoire of 21st-century electroacoustic music, presenting a collection of works for flute, clarinet, and computer-generated sound that explore the chaotic beauty of this trio. With performances by two American wind virtuosi – clarinetist Esther Lamneck and flutist Elizabeth McNutt – these works showcase the skills of the musicians, their dynamic relationships with the computer, and the composers’ innovative, colorful, and resourceful styles.

The result of an eight-year integrated process of collaborations and performances, this self-titled release on Ravello Records showcases six works from a diverse group of contemporary composers on either side of the Atlantic, including Ricardo Climent, Paul Wilson, Robert Rowe, Andrew May, Eric Lyon, and Russell Pinkston. These composers create mysterious and turbulent sonic worlds by incorporating extended techniques, primal and ethereal computer-generated sounds, and improvisation. READ MORE

Robert J. Martin / Neely Bruce | Shirley Blankenship

On their debut Ravello Records release, PLAYFUL EDGE OF THE WAVE, composers Robert J. Martin and Neely Bruce join a love of beauty with the willingness to engage in spirited, magical, even outrageously unexpected sounds and gestures. These composers, with pianist Shirley Blankenship, present a collection of image-based works whose titles and descriptions open a direction to understanding the music. 
Martin presents 100 Views of Mt. Fuji: 100 Pieces in 100 Minutes-Homage to Hokusai, a series of short evocations of Hokusai’s woodcuts of Mt. Fuji, each different in its gestures and language, yet all in the same universe. This work exemplifies the concept of image-based music, each piece’s title offering a vision for the music. In his Improvisations, Bruce reveals the gentle and mesmerizing side of contemporary non-traditional harmonies. In Homage to Seb, the composer presents an amazingly atonal and pleasingly modern side of Johann Sebastian Bach. The collection ends with Martin’s stone & feather, an exploration of timbre, lightness, and heaviness. The images found in the pieces’ titles and descriptions are keys to the music, allowing the listener to unlock a door between the abstract and the concrete, between the composer and the audience member, and to discover a vivid world that is captivating and new. READ MORE


Mel Braun, Laura Loewen

Life on the Canadian prairie is vital, challenging, and poetic, and on their debut Big Round Records release, BY THE RED, pianist Laura Loewen and baritone Mel Braun – joined by Fred Redekop and Jay Taylor, otherwise known as the mandolin-bass duo Big and Dinky – present a glimpse of the variety of folk music found in Manitoba’s Red River Valley. Drawn from French Canadian, Métis, German Mennonite, Scots, and cowboy culture, and supplemented by the art song-like settings of John Greer, Larry Warkentin, Chester Duncan, Robert Turner, and Heidi Ugrin, these works relate stories that 200 years of life in the Red River Valley have generated. Tales of sod-busting pioneers, exile, sacrifice, summer idyll, and love, all leavened by a sense of humor that allows life to flourish on the prairie, are explored on this dramatic and nostalgic collection. READ MORE

Gay Pearson Quintet

On her debut Big Round Records release, A SINISTER ENDEAVOR, composer and pianist Gay Pearson presents a collection of works that highlight her eclectic quintet – consisting of piano, bass, drums, flute, and cello – and their colorful, introspective, and energetic performances. Recorded live in Newburyport MA, this album presents original works by Pearson, including Zonal and Meridional Flow, with its classical counterpoint and 4-part polyphony; the energetic solo piano piece Cirrus High; and An Ionian Emitter, which uses complex rhythms and syncopation.

Pearson and her quintet display their melancholy and poignant side with ballads such as Joseph’s Kosma’s Autumn Leaves, Blue Moment, and Barry Manilow’s When October Goes. Sally Lutyens’ Evening Song is a mysterious and romantic promenade-like piece that is given an emotive and yearning interpretation by Pearson, flutist Lea Pearson, and cellist Shannon Allen. These live performances capture the technical and passionate presence of Pearson and her quintet, showing their abilities in settings of improvisation, classical structures, and jazz gestures. READ MORE

Various Artists

Big Round Record’s first installment of its compilation series, BIG ROUND SOUND VOL. 1, presents a deep cross-section of the label’s contemporary and eclectic catalog. From jazz and world music to folk, fusion, and progressive rock, this album features performances by Tony R. Clef, the Oscuro Quintet, Andy Jaffe and Branford Marsalis, Sophie Dunér, the Larksong Trio, Anne Vanschothorst, Juan Álamo, Jean-Philippe Grégoire, and more in works by Christina Rusnak, Svjetlana Bukvich, Sebastiano Meloni, Ecco La Musica, Bunny Beck, and others. READ MORE

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